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Veteran tackle returns to an uncertain role

Jamon Meredith
Jamon Meredith

Jamon Meredith seems certain to start now that he is eligible to return to the field. What’s less sure is what position the senior will play.

Meredith started the past two seasons at left tackle, but he had to sit out the first two games of this season due to an NCAA ruling that restored his redshirt as a freshman.

Instead of reclaiming his old spot, where sophomore Jarriel King started against Vanderbilt, Meredith could be plugged in at another spot. While the most likely spot is left guard, coach Steve Spurrier on Sunday didn’t specify a position or on what side.

“He’s been a two-year starter, in all likelihood he’ll start somewhere,” Spurrier said.

Something positive. Despite struggling in the second half at Vanderbilt, the South Carolina defense sits atop the SEC rankings after two weeks. The Gamecocks have yielded an average of 181.5 yards and 69.5 passing.

“It’s hard for me to be upset at our defense right now,” Spurrier said. “But, obviously, to give us any kind of chance this season our defense really has to play well. And we’ve gotta play a whole lot better offensively.”

A class conflict? The good news is the Gamecocks know Jasper Brinkley has been attending class. The bad news is they know because the star middle linebacker has had to miss defensive meetings because of the class.

Spurrier said he wanted to resolve the conflict, but that is the only time the class is offered. Brinkley had a sub-par game at Vanderbilt, recording one tackle, not a solo, and dropping a potential interception.

Polls. The Gamecocks’ stay in both national polls was brief. After being ranked 24th in the Associated Press and USA Today polls last week, the team fell out following the loss to Vanderbilt.

Expanding the depth chart. With the offense struggling, a few younger skill-position players could get more looks in the coming weeks.

The biggest need is at receiver, especially with Kenny McKinley’s hamstring injury. Spurrier identified three wideouts — C.C. Whitlock, Joe Hills and Jason Barnes — who would get more practice reps this week.

“We need to play those three guys,” Spurrier said.

Tailback has been less of an issue, but Spurrier would like to find a way to get sophomore Brian Maddox and freshman Eric Baker some chances.

“They’re both good backs,” Spurrier said. “It’s hard to play four running backs. So we’ve got to make some decisions. If Mike’s banged up or not, to play those guys some more.”

Taylor Rank has been getting the carries not going to starter Mike Davis.

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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